J Bar Thursday’s are the best Thursday’s for you and me: a real night out at The J Bar

For anyone who hasn’t spent their time at 41 N. Court St. it’s advised you make a trip to this local Athens establishment. Here’s a short recap of a typical Thursday night from the perspective of the bartenders and fellow OU students. From great drinks, an awesome staff and a wide variety of music, thanks to the DJ many Ohio U. students refer to as DJ Dick Slap, J Bar rarely disappoints. Check out a J Bar Thursday experience now!

Court Street offers students a wide variety of options

I focused my video on the multitude of options that Court Street has to offer.  Not only are there many bars that students frequent on a nightly basis, there are also several places to eat, both local joints as well as more well-known chain eateries.  Court Street is usually only thought of as a place where students go to drink, when in reality it offers so much more than just bars and alcohol.

 

Court Street: my favorite place in Athens

Between the crowds of students, the look and feel of red Athens blocks, and the unique shops and local restaurants that line it, there is nothing quite like Court Street in Athens, Ohio. My own father, a 1984 alumnus of the communications school, always told me, “it is like a whole other world down there.” I never truly understood what he meant until I visited Athens for the first time when I was touring the Ohio University campus with my family back in 2012, but after I saw Court Street for myself, I knew exactly what he had meant.

Court street has a feeling that is special, there is something unique and indescribable about its character. It is my favorite place in Athens because it is the heart and soul of the city. This is where the culture and conversation of the town has been originating since 1804. The history and charisma of this place can be felt by walking up and down the brick lined sidewalks of Court Street. So many generations of students and staff have had unforgettable college experiences on that street, growing up and growing together as a community. Court Street feels as though it is part of Ohio University because of its architecture and closeness to the campus.

Court Street only stretches for about a half mile, but that is all it needs to be one of the most picturesque and charming I have ever seen. Somehow it gives you the feeling of being in a lively city without ever losing that small-town charm that Athens has. Running into friends or professors, attending nationally recognized events like the Halloween parade with 25-foot-tall puppets and live music, or going to the Ohio Brew Week, there is always something new and exciting happening on Court Street.

Students and staff walking down Court Street

Local businesses like The Athena Cinema, Bagel Street Deli, Casa Nueva, or Tony’s Tavern make Court Street and Athens a one of a kind destination. These shops give the street a home-grown, connected community feeling that I have not experienced anywhere else.

Taking a stroll down Court Street never fails to remind me of just how lucky I am to be in a place like this and that it will not last forever. It is my favorite place in Athens because I know it will be where I come back to when I visit my fellow Bobcats in the future as an alumnus, just like my brother and my father before me. The street reminds me of the bonds that I have made here and the relationships that I will never forget with some of my best friends in the world.

Court Street and college green were the first two places in Athens that I saw, they left me in awe, giving me an affinity towards the town and the University. These places made me want to be part of the Bobcat legacy. They are still a large reason why I have such a strong affiliation to this place today. Court street has helped me to grow both socially and professionally as a human being. My favorite place in Athens has taught me life skills that I will take with me forever from this community.

Some Bobcats can still be found on Court Street at 2 a.m. on a Monday

On the weekends, Court Street can be so crowded that it’s often difficult to even walk down the sidewalk. But on some weeknights, the only people who can be found on this street are the few who have time to get drunk and those who have to take care of everyone who has time to get drunk.

Back from the ashes the Union open again

     Resurrected from that destructive blaze in 2014 the Union has opened its doors again. A landmark of not only the Athens music scene, but that of the greater Ohio area. Inside its walls sits more than a bar, or a venue to see shows, the Union is a place where the people of Athens can come together and enjoy the town’s nightlife.
The Union is one of the few places in Athens that actually hosts live music, and the only place in Athens, that is not university affiliated, that can pull in bigger acts that the others can’t. This led to the Union grabbing some talented acts, some of which eventually move on to preform bigger venues. The Union gives bands a place to show off their talent and bring their music to Athens.
Famous acts like the Black Keys and the White Stripes have played their stage before they got big enough to sell out larger clubs. While they’re able to find some of the acts before they’re too big. While the Union likes to show off the talent they’re able to bring in, the Union is truly a place where anyone who wants to show off their talent can come and perform on decent stage.
On top of their music endeavors the Union will host performance pieces too. The open environment of the Union allowed for many groups to showcase their work without going through the university or leaving the Athens area. The local production of Rocky Horror Picture Show once had a lines around the block until the fire forced the local theater group to move locations.
When the Union caught fire in the early morning of November of 2014, with most of the roof gone with the fire, the situation looked grim for the Union. They weren’t the only ones affected by the fire, being in the middle of the fire’s path which took out several other neighboring businesses, forcing many to relocate and for others to shut down permanently.

A view of West Union today.
A view of West Union today.

     After a lengthy period being closed, the Union is finally back. Walking in it’s hard to tell there was ever a fire there to being with. The bar’s owners took care to not only restore the damage done, but to improve from what they were before, while keeping to their punk rock roots. When the fire took most of their roof, the Union sadly lost most of it’s music equipment to the combined efforts of water, smoke, and fire. However, this gave them the chance to seriously improve the sound quality in the venue upstairs.
The owners of the Union went through great lengths to make a nicer bar, but with the same feeling they had for decades. The Union is more than just a bar or a place to play music, it’s a center point for the local culture of Athens to show itself, while being exposed to acts from around the country. Deep down it’s still the same old bar, just with a much fresher look to it now.

Home for music and weirdos, I mean The Smiling Skull not my boyfriend’s house

Cheap beer, live music, and no ID requirements at the door. It’s basically what broke college student dreams are made of. While it may not be a gem to many the Smiling Skull Saloon is definitely a remarkable part of Athens.

Athens has a large music scene and The Skull is one of the many locations used as a venue to book shows for local and other up-and-coming musicians. Shows at the Skull tend to be more punk rock oriented with the occasional bluegrass band. This is only my second year at Ohio University but I’ve been able to see numerous bands at this small dive bar alone.

The crowds at shows tend to get very rowdy, especially after a night filled with drinking. Last year New York punk band, Bbig Pigg, was wrapping up the show for the night as last call approached. I was hoping to stay until the very end of show but during one of their songs a member of the audience stole the microphone from the vocalist. The microphone thief then smashed his beer bottle onto the ground. Shards of glass flew all over the place and I was so excited I didn’t realize some of the pieces cut my legs and were stuck to my clothing.

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Graffiti wall inside the women’s restroom

In”Smiling Skull Saloon a sanctuary for students and townies alike,” Emily Bohatch captures the essence of the bar. She said the usage of old license plates and photos hanging on the walls as decoration of bar “embodies a sense of tradition and home.”

The vintage posters and photos hung around the walls surrounded by graffiti are what make the Skull some kind of time machine for me. Even though the bar is only 16 years old the graffiti is a sobering reminder that I’m only going to be here for four years. I should enjoy it just like everyone else who left their mark somewhere in the bar.

The decorations are not the only thing that make the bar remarkable for me. It’s also the people I’ve met and stories I’ve learned. There’s always an interesting mix of patrons which make up of bikers, ‘townies’, and college students.

The most interesting to talk to have always been the older crowd of bikers and ‘townies’ because they always have a story to tell about “back in the day” and you can see how people’s eyes light up when reminiscing.

One of the most notable characters I’ve met has been Santa. A tall, older man with a beard that reaches his belly who sits by the door greeting people. There hasn’t been a night in which he isn’t filled with jokes and compliments.

Everyone in Athens has a bar that they prefer, and the Skull is definitely it for me. Many people I’ve met are usually not too excited about the idea of going to a dive bar at first but it’s an experience they end up enjoying. The Skull stands out and is unique, just like its patrons.

The Crystal: All Are Welcome

The "Stal" is one of my favorite places to socialize with friends, day or night.
The “Stal” is one of my favorite places to socialize with friends, day or night.

Come one, come all to a place that doesn’t discriminate. Just came from the gym? Perfect. Leaving straight from the library? Even better. Craving some salty late night popcorn? Grab your beer money and stop by one of Athens’ gems: The Crystal.

A video by Henry Weber said it best, The Crystal is the number one bar in Athens, Ohio. This may seem like an exaggeration, but there are hundreds of people on campus willing to backup that statement. Whether you refer to it as Stal or Crusty Crystal, to many it’s called home.

This establishment might seem like just another hole in the wall, but once you’re inside with a $3 drink in hand, it’s nearly impossible to have a bad time.

The Crystal works to build a family atmosphere where a familiar face is always just around the corner. This bar attracts such a diverse crowd of people that almost guarantees a run-in with someone you know. It could be a guy who sat behind you in freshman English, a friend you haven’t seen since high school, or maybe an old TA who stopped by for a drink. Anything is possible at The Crystal.

As you walk by this bar on a typical Saturday night, large front windows reveal a crowd of people laughing, dancing and seemingly having the time of their lives. I am normally one of those people. Your shoes might stick to the floor when you walk. There’s probably a couple making out in the corner. More often than not there’s a girl who’s had one too many dancing on a table. But I wouldn’t want to spend the night (Or day. No discriminating, remember?) with any other group of weirdos.

The Crystal is one of more than twenty bars in Athens, but it will always be number one in my heart.

Purple Chopstix: Athens’ Hidden Dining Gem

There’s no lack of dining options for OU students. Cruise down Court Street and Chipotle, Pita Pit and Jimmy Johns– your typical quality chain restaurants– align the brick road.

They’re a safehaven from the everyday dining hall experience. However, Athens also has its fair share of hidden gems. One that made my senior-year bucket-list: Purple Chopstix.

It’s a little place I’ve heard about since my freshman year. This year, while constructing a bucket-list of places to visit in Athens before graduation, Purple Chopstix immediately came to the forefront of my mind.

Opening it’s doors in 1989, the unique, colorful restaurant located on Richland Avenue is within walking distance of South Green. However, its lack of proximity from the heart of OU campus keeps Purple Chopstix a secret sanctuary of eclectic food.

Purple ChopstixPassing by, you might not assume the little cottage would be home to savory, homemade dishes, and you might be shocked to learn that those dishes do not contain traditional Chinese foods eaten with purple chopsticks. However, the most surprising quality is that Purple Chopstix is BYOB.

According to owner and head chef Ed Fisher, his restaurant allows guests to bring their own alcohol — a concept that compliments the originality of the establishment, proving its appeal to college students — due to its lack of a liquor license.

“Going out to restaurants and bars to order drinks can be costly,” says Morgan Harkey, a senior at Ohio University. “I’m a broke college student, to have the option to get a cheap bottle of wine on your own with some friends and bring it to get a nice cooked meal is not only fun but keeps me from spending endless dollars on my own drinks.”

While the BYOB policy attracts intrigue, it is seen as a negative attribute for a restaurant from the side of those in the culinary business. “It definitely keeps would keep a restaurant from making more money,” says Jake Spiccia, the owner of Pizzazz On The Circle, a restaurant in Cleveland. “And especially for a restaurant in a college town, you just rack in the money from alcohol.”

In a town like OU, where partying is at the center of the social scene, you would think a restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol would be quickly dismissed when choosing a place to dine. However, Purple Chopstix has been around for over 25 years. That’s because the food is what sells this restaurant to students and members of the Athens community.

Before going, I read some reviews to see what I was getting myself into, and they were raving. “Autumn S” claims on TripAdvisor.com says “You can’t get this food anywhere else on earth.”

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And “emilygood” promises that this a “must see when in Athens.”

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I was sold on trying Purple Chopstix after only reading a few reviews. The restaurant is only open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday for brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., so we made sure to make a reservation to just be safe.

Upon arriving, you instantly sense the quirkiness of your surroundings. From the colorful walls and artwork to the fun and personable employees. Before I had even tried the food, I decided I loved the place. To get a sense of the ambiance for yourself, check out the video below.

https://vimeo.com/145471434

The menu offers a wide variety of saliva-inducing plates ranging from curry dishes to Greek pizza. I went with “Sweet Potato Peanut Pasta” and was not disappointed. Purple Chopstix felt so homey and relaxing. We became friends with the waitress and even personally thanked Fisher, along with his son, Gabe.

Inside the HallOUween block party

The Halloween human parking meter.
The Halloween human parking meter.

The beginning of the fall season beckons the imminence of the Halloween celebrations. Straightaway, the almost forgotten city of southeast Ohio, Athens, becomes the name on everyone’s lips — both young and old.

All roads lead to the brick city, the undisputed “home of HallOUween,” to have a feel of the wind of fun and craziness blowing through the county.

During this time the hash tag #HallOUween trends on social media, to give everyone an idea of where to be for the celebration. Don’t be surprised to see “OU” in the middle of the word itself. Halloween is Athens. Athens is Halloween. Period.

Saturday night was not different. It was a sight to behold on the brick-lined Court Street of Athens. The famous Athens Halloween Block Party was making progress.

With a charged atmosphere and a massive show of youthful exuberance, students, community members and visitors sang along and cheered performers throughout the night. The excitement was beyond description.halllll

Aside the music, dance and ear-blocking cheers from revelers, I observed one thing. Some eateries and bars had a pocket swell. Long-winding queues stretched from their entrances with a spill onto the streets. Obviously, food could never be left out of the night’s pleasure, which translated into what could be described as a very good business day for some Court Street business owners.

Another thing caught my attention. A human parking meter with the popular campus yellow bag with the inscriptions “no parking” worn on his head. You just questioned won’t he suffocate to death? Huh? Exactly my thoughts when I first saw him.

halllThankfully, he had punched holes around the eyes and nose to allow for breathing. He stood still with one arm stretched. You ‘park’ in front of him, he fines you. Just as simple as that. (Hahahaaa!).

Returning to my humble abode, scores of people were having their own mini block parties in front of their apartments. As to whether it was a warm up to go down to Court Street, or their own way of celebrating the night, I can’t tell but all I can say is that, Athens #HallOUween Block Party was a blast with a variety of activities for both young and old.hall

Top 7 relationships in Athens, Ohio

We have all heard about the Hollywood celebrity dating scene, but I bet you didn’t know we have our own celebrity couples in Athens, Ohio. The rich and famous have made their way to our college town and I bet you run into them more than you think. That’s right, I’m talking about the bars and restaurants that are open after dark. We crowd them, take pictures, and follow their every move. You have been so focused on your favorite that I’m sure you haven’t noticed that they are all secretly in relationships. It’s true, and we have the inside scoop for you!

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Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill

Let’s start with two of the most famous establishments in Athens, Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill. These love birds have been eyeing each other from across the street for years. After hanging out, listening to music, and enjoying the unique beers Jackie-O’s has, you can walk down the street and order the famous Chicken and Waffle sandwich. This is one couple you do not want to mess with.

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Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva

Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva is one couple that is juat too hot to ignore. They are both so bold, but together would be a powerhouse. If you start to get hungry after too many margaritas, your next stop should be Big Mamma’s for one of their signature burritos. While there is a separation between them, these star crossed lovers can’t be separated. Te amo!

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Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough

Our next couple may be long distance, but Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough will always be close at heart. With the word “alumni” in the name, it’s safe to assume that a lot of alums visit while reliving their glory days. Since they are veterans, they know how to beat the hangovers. They can order their calzones and meet it in the hotel, just in time for bed!

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Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies

What is better than cookies and coffee? Nothing. Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies is a match made in Heaven. After drinking a Hot Nut, a mixture of coffee and liquor, the only thing that would make your night better would be a warm cookie! The best part is that Insomnia is open until 3 am, so you can pick it up on your way home!

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Pigskin and Kisers on Court BBQ

Life would be a “boar” without Pigskin and Kiser’s BBQ together. This relationship was a no brainer. Nothing goes together like beer, BBQ, and country music. These two have just that! Kiser’s on Court is now open until 3 am on Friday and Saturday. This combination would be the perfect “cure” for any weekend night!

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Union Street Diner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull

Here in Athens, Ohio, we don’t judge. When we heard that Union Street Dinner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull were in a relationship together, we welcomed them with open arms. All three of these places are located on Union Street and you can’t have one without the other. While these bars are considered “townie” bars, students just can’t resist them. After listening to the music and sitting on the patio, the only other logical stop would be the dinner. Thankfully it’s open 24/7.

BW3

Buffalo Wild Wings

And, of course, there’s always that one friend that will fall into the “forever alone” category. That friend is Buffalo Wild Wings. This restaurant serves food and alcohol late into the night. Between the beer, wings, and giant TV’s, why would you need anything else? Don’t worry BW3’s; we still love you!

Since the lifestyles of the rich and famous are constantly changing, what relationships are your favorites? Comment below and tell us your favorite duo in Athens, Ohio. You never know who might be next!

All photos and graphics of Athens, Ohio were taken and made by Hannah Funderburg